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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Giggs happy to juggle fixtures

Ryan Giggs feels United's fixture congestion may be a blessing in disguise.

The Reds' involvement in Friday's UEFA Super Cup means that Fulham's visit to Old Trafford - originally pencilled in for this Saturday - needs to be rescheduled.

At a point when the Carrington treatment room is still crowded, however, Giggs feels the trip to Monaco may have come at the right time.

"Hopefully we’ve got all the injuries at the start of the season and we can get everyone back fit, more or less, after the international break," he said.

"In a way it’s fallen nicely for us, having only two league games in the first four or five weeks of the season when we’ve got a few injuries. When we do have to play these games again, maybe we’ll have everyone back fit."

Last season's Champions League success means United will also have to juggle a Premier League fixture against Wigan during December's involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Although the Reds are paying the price of success with this term's extra fixtures, Giggs admits such hurdles are there to be overcome.

"It will be a difficult season because of the game cancelled on Friday, we’re going to Tokyo for a week so we’ll have a game cancelled there, and we do have to cope with that," he said.

"But I always say the best team is always at the top of the table at the end of the season and they deserve it. You make your own luck."

Although he is creeping towards the end of his illustrious career, Giggs admits he is savouring his football more than ever.

"I think I maybe enjoy it more because this season I could be going into games thinking it might be the last time I play in that tournament," he revealed.

"You try and enjoy it. When you’re younger you’ve got another 10-12 years to go and maybe you don’t take it in as much. For example, in Moscow I took in the night a lot more than I did in 1999. It comes with age, so I am enjoying it more than ever – as long as we’re winning!"

Vidic denies critical comments

Nemanja Vidic would like to clarify comments attributed to him in several UK newspapers, which have either been taken out of context or misquoted.

Vidic conducted an interview with Russian football magazine Football Weekly, in which he was quoted criticising Manchester's weather and the English lifestyle.

In the interview the defender did discuss how difficult he found it adapting to life in England - including the rain Manchester occasionally experiences - when he first joined from Spartak Moscow in January 2006. He freely admits that, in his first six months in England, he struggled with a new language and culture which contrasted with that of Russia or his native Serbia.

But he feels compelled to clear up other comments attributed to him in the UK press, in which he supposedly said: "In Manchester the main attraction is a timetable at the railway station where trains leave for less rainy cities!

"In England people don't have time to feel the joy of life. Throughout the week they work so hard. They only talk to people at lunch. Then in the evening they watch TV so they can get up early for work the next day."

Nemanja told "I'd like to clarify that I did not make these particular remarks. I spoke about the difficulty I had settling in to life in Manchester, but that does not reflect how I feel now.

"I enjoy my life very much as a footballer at Manchester United and I'm very happy to be a part of this great club. I think I show that in the way I play every week. I also have far too much respect for the people of Manchester, and England, to criticise them in this way."

Owen aims to move on

Having had his first year as a United player disrupted by injury, Owen Hargreaves is hopeful that his return - perhaps in Friday's UEFA Super Cup final - will be his last injury comeback of the season.

Tendinitis affected the midfielder throughout his debut season at OT but, after some impressive training displays, Hargreaves almost featured in Monday's win at Portsmouth. Now a return in Monaco against Zenit St Petersburg could be on the cards.

"I’ve got a big season ahead - with United and England - and I want to be fit," he said. "Hopefully I’ll be back soon and fit for the remainder of the season. Monaco is a possibility, we’ll just see how training goes. I’m improving every day, so hopefully I’ll be back soon."

Hargreaves admits his knee problems have dogged him since before his arrival in Manchester, but some sterling work from the club's medical staff could end the problem.

"I’ve felt it on and off for 16 months," he revealed. "Sometimes more, sometimes less – it’s something I’ve had to cope with. The staff and I have worked very hard so that I’m fit and when I play I don’t miss out. They’ve done a really good job. I think we’ve got it under control."

Berbatov set to move

Dimitar Berbatov's switch to Manchester United looked to be moving a step closer last night after Roman Pavlyuchenko claimed he had finally agreed a deal to join Tottenham. Spartak Moscow had earlier said the Russia striker, 26, had opted against a move because of family reasons, but last night he confirmed he had not travelled with the Spartak squad for the second leg of their Champions League qualifier with Dynamo Kiev as he was finalising the details of his move to Spurs.
Staff writer, Daily Mail